October 7, 2016 by T. Gregory Argall
Atop Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa, there is a sign which says, “Congratulations, you are now at Gilman’s Point 5685 M / 18652 ft AMSL.” (AMSL is “above mean sea level.”) In fact there are apparently a few different signs, depending on your route. Some say 5681 metres, others say 5685, because Gilman’s Point is not absolutely flat.
It doesn’t really make a difference which sign you see first; they all have the same meaning. If you are standing at the sign it means you have achieved something significant and special and very challenging.
It also means that long before you even thought about climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, someone else did it and then built a sign.
There are currently about 7.4 billion people in the world. Maybe a hundred of them are actively pursuing completely new, cutting edge, never-been-done-before research. Which means that the odds are astronomically against you being the first person to do anything. At all. Ever.
But you should do it anyway.
Because no matter how many times something has been done by other people, the first time you do will be the first time it’s been by you.
And that is an accomplishment worthy of note.
So that sudden sense of pride you you feel when you manage to do something you’ve never done before? The one that crops of ever so briefly before that annoying voice at the back of your mind says, “So what? Millions of people do that everyday.”?
Embrace that feeling, that sense of pride. And while you’re at it, tell that voice to bugger off. Brag about what you did, even if there’s no one around and you’re just bragging to yourself. “That’s the first time I’ve ever done that.” If it’s particularly impressive and you manage to do it again, continue the brag. “That’s the first time I’ve ever done that for the second time.”
Because we need to recognise and enjoy our accomplishments in life, the big one and the little ones. It’s gives us a purpose, a reason to move forward.
“That’s the first time this afternoon I’ve got out of bed.”
Okay, maybe not every little accomplishment, but admittedly, we’ve all had days when simply leaving the house felt like an achievement worthy of the evening news.
Besides, our mundane exploits are the baseline against which we measure our significant feats. Like climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, or helping someone who needs it.
Getting to Kilimanjaro in the first place is not always feasible, but there are always opportunities to have a positive impact on someone else’s life. And that doesn’t even need to be the first time.
Try to be nice to each other.